IN THE INTEREST OF B.A., Minor Child, B.G., Mother, Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Butler County, Peter B.
Newell, District Associate Judge.
mother appeals the termination of her parental rights to her
A. Milder of Mark Milder Law Firm, Waverly, for appellant
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Ana Dixit, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee State.
Elizabeth A. Batey of Vickers Law Office, Greene, guardian ad
litem for minor child.
Considered by Danilson, C.J., and Doyle and Mullins, JJ.
was born in June of 2015, and in August 2017, the juvenile
court terminated his parents' parental rights. The mother
now appeals the court's ruling, though she does not
dispute that grounds for termination of her parental rights
were established. See In re P.L., 778 N.W.2d 33, 40
(Iowa 2010) ("Because the father does not dispute the
existence of the grounds . . ., we do not have to discuss
this step."). Rather, she asserts she was denied due
process in the case. She also contends she should have been
given additional time for reunification or, alternatively, a
guardianship should have been established rather than
terminating her parental rights. Our review is de novo.
See In re M.W., 876 N.W.2d 212, 219 (Iowa 2016).
child came to the attention of the Iowa Department of Human
Services in August 2015 due to concerns about the
mother's drug use and mental health. The mother admitted
she had been parenting the child while under the influence of
methamphetamine. The mother was on probation from a 2013
conviction for possession of a controlled substance. The
mother voluntarily agreed to place the child in the care of
her mother, the child's grandmother, and to participate
in services. Nevertheless, the mother was arrested in April
2016 for possession of methamphetamine. Thereafter, the child
was adjudicated a child in need of assistance (CINA) and
formally placed in the grandmother's care, where he has
mother was incarcerated after her April 2016 arrest while
probation revocation proceedings were pending. She was placed
in the Women's Center for Change in June 2016, and she
was released with continued supervision in August 2016.
However, the mother continued using methamphetamine, and she
stopped having interactions with the child altogether in
November 2016. After she failed to comply with the conditions
of her probation, a warrant was issued for her arrest in late
2016 or early 2017. The mother was not located until March
2017, when she was arrested and placed in jail until she was
sent to the Iowa Correctional Institution for Women (ICIW) in
Mitchellville in April 2017. The State then filed its
petition for termination of her parental rights.
the scheduled hearing, the mother requested to be present at
the hearing, and she filed a request that the juvenile court
enter an order directing that she be transported to the
hearing by the Butler County Sheriff. The court entered an
order for transport, and the Iowa Department of Corrections
(IDOC) subsequently filed a motion asking the court to
reconsider its order, arguing the juvenile court lacked
authority to order removal of the mother from the ICIW, an
inmate under the custody and control of the executive
department, i.e. the IDOC, but it offered to make the mother
available by phone or video conference, if that was
available. Following a hearing, the court denied the
IDOC's motion and directed the Butler County Sheriff to
transport the mother to the upcoming
termination-of-parental-rights hearing. The IDOC appealed the
matter to the Iowa Supreme Court, and that court summarily
reversed the juvenile court's order, citing Iowa Code
section 622.82 (2017) and Myers v. Emke, 476 N.W.2d
84, 86 (Iowa 1991).
termination-of-parental-rights hearing was held August 16,
2017, with the mother's attorney appearing physically on
her behalf at the hearing and the mother appearing via
speakerphone from the ICIW. The mother testified she had
participated in numerous services while incarcerated and was
due to be released to the Women's Center in two days. She
also testified she anticipated a discharge from supervision
on November 27, 2017.
appeal, the mother asserts her due process rights were
violated by the IDOC's refusal to transport her to the
termination-of-parental-rights hearing. The State argues that
this issue was already litigated to the Iowa Supreme Court
and should not be decided again here. In any event, the State
argues the Iowa Supreme Court correctly reversed the juvenile
court's transportation order. We note, as an intermediate
appellate court, we do not possess the power to overturn that
court's rulings. See, e.g., State v.
Miller, 841 N.W.2d 583, 584 n.1 (Iowa 2014)
("Generally, it is the role of the supreme court to
decide if case precedent should no longer be
followed."); State v. Eichler, 83 N.W.2d 576,
578 (Iowa 1957) ("If our previous holdings are to be
overruled, we should ordinarily prefer to do it
ourselves."); State v. Hastings, 466 N.W.2d
697, 700 (Iowa Ct. App. 1990) ("We are not at liberty to
overturn Iowa Supreme Court precedent."). Regardless,
this court has long held that if "a parent receives
notice of the petition and hearing, is represented by
counsel, counsel is present at the termination hearing, and
the parent has an opportunity to present testimony by
deposition, " the parent has not been deprived of
fundamental fairness. In re J.S., 470 N.W.2d 48, 52
(Iowa Ct. App. 1991). Here, the mother received notice of the
hearing, had the opportunity to litigate the denial of her
request for transport, and was present via speakerphone at
the termination-of-parental-rights hearing, where her
attorney was physically present and the mother was permitted
to read a statement and give testimony. There is no violation
having reviewed the record de novo, we find no reason to
disturb the juvenile court's denials for additional time
for reunification and establishing a guardianship. After a
termination-of-parental-rights hearing, if the court
determines "facts sufficient to sustain the petition
have been established, " the court can either
"order parental rights terminated, " or it can
"adjudicate the child to be a [CINA] and . . . enter an
order in accordance with the provisions of section . . .
232.104." Iowa Code § 232.117(3), (5). Section
232.104(2)(b) allows the parent to be granted an additional
six months to work toward reunification if we determine the
need for removal will no longer exist at the end of the
extension. Section 232.104(2)(d) sets forth other permanency
options for the child's placement, including transferring
"guardianship and custody of the child to a suitable
person" or transferring "custody of the child to a
suitable person for the purpose of long-term care."
See id. § 232.104(2)(d)(1), (3). However, the
placements enumerated in paragraph (d) can only be ordered if
the court first finds that convincing evidence exists showing
termination of the parent-child relationship ...